Memorial Day is for remembering
For Master Sergeant Juanita Milligan, serving in the military is her honor. Being wounded while serving is the price for freedom.
The active-duty Army Reservist told Hillsboro residents and visitors Monday at Memorial Park that even though she inherited her freedoms at birth, she was willing to serve her country to maintain those freedoms.
"I'm not going to give any great words of wisdom," Master Sgt. Milligan said as she began her speech. "I just love being a soldier."
She continued that honoring veterans who have served and who continue to serve always will make Memorial Day one of the most important holidays to honor veterans who are no longer living.
Milligan said even though the beat of the drum changes during wars, the honor of serving has not waned.
From the beaches of Normandy to where soldiers nearly froze to death to rice patties in Vietnam to dusty roads in the Middle East, veterans must not be forgotten, she said.
"Serving in the military is an honorable occupation but often overlooked," Milligan said. Some parents are reluctant to encourage their children to serve because of the danger.
"It's a way of life that has been good to me and my family," she said.
Milligan was seriously wounded in Iraq but would go back if given the chance.
"I am willing to be deployed again and again to serve," she said.
The young Purple Heart recipient with the bandaged arm who walks with a limp challenged those in attendance to ask others they see with disabilities if they are a member of U.S. Armed Forces.
"If they are a veteran, thank them for their services," she said.
"We are pleased as a nation to have servicemen and women who are willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom," Milligan said.
Prior to the master sergeant's address, patriotic songs were performed by Ruth Winter and Hillsboro American Legion Chaplain Wayne Friesen provided a prayer.
Brenda Kimberly, auxiliary chaplain provided the Memorial Day prayer. Josh Plenert, sergeant at arms, placed a wreath in memory of those who gave their lives for the nation.
Names of Hillsboro and area soldiers who died in service were read, followed by those veterans who died this past year, and those veterans who died in previous years.
The firing squad then provided a salute for their fallen comrades while bugler Lewis Hagen sounded Taps.